“I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators," the editor-in-chief wrote in an internal email to Vogue staff

By Hanna Flanagan
June 10, 2020 01:37 PM
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Anna Wintour is taking full responsibility for racial inequality at Vogue, amid accusations of unfair treatment to people of color at food magazine Bon Appétit (both of which are brands under the global mass media company, Condé Nast.)

In an internal memo sent to staffers (which was obtained by Page Six), the longtime Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast artistic director, 70, admitted to “hurtful and intolerant” creative decisions and addressed the fashion magazine’s lack of diverse representation.

“I want to say this especially to the Black members of our team — I can only imagine what these days have been like,” Wintour wrote in the emotional email sent on June 4. “But I also know that the hurt, and violence, and injustice we’re seeing and talking about have been around for a long time. Recognizing it and doing something about it is overdue.”

She continued: “I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes.”

The famed fashion editor — whose longstanding reputation for being intimidating was the inspiration behind Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada — promised to “do better” moving forward and encouraged Vogue staffers to share their concerns with her.

“It can’t be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue, and there are too few of you. I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will — and please know that I value your voices and responses as we move forward. I am listening and would like to hear your feedback and your advice if you would like to share either."

“I am proud of the content we have published on our site over these past few days but I also know that there is much more work to do. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me directly. I am arranging ways we can discuss these issues together candidly, but in the meantime, I welcome your thoughts or reactions.”

PEOPLE has reached out to Vogue for comment.

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On Monday, Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport stepped down from his role following outrage over a resurfaced racially insensitive photo that led magazine staff members to speak out about unfair treatment at the brand.

Rapoport made the announcement on Instagram, writing that he is "deeply sorry" for a former Halloween costume he wore that perpetuated harmful stereotypes of Puerto Rican people.

At the time, Bon Appétit did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Several staff members spoke out about the controversy on social media — including assistant editor Sohla El-Waylly, who wrote on her Instagram Story that she is "angry and disgusted" by the photo, but that it's "just a symptom of the systematic racism that runs rampant" within the media company.

El-Waylly went on to claim that she is paid less than her white co-workers who have "significantly less experience."

Adam Rapoport
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In a statement to Variety, Condé Nast denied the accusation that white staffers are paid for video appearances while people of color are not. And on Sunday evening, the media company issued a statement denouncing discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Wintour's email also comes on the heels of André Leon Talley's explosive memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, where he writes about his complicated 30-year friendship and public falling out with the Vogue editor-in-chief.

Talley writes that Wintour is "not capable of simple human kindness," despite frequently calling his book a tribute and a "love letter" to his former colleague.

In an interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning in May, Talley clarified why he considers it a "love letter" even though he said his words will "probably be very hard for her to read."

"This is a painful thing for me, but it is a love letter because it's a love letter about the joys as well as the lows of my life. And the joys of my life have been with Anna Wintour," he explained. "I owe to her the pioneering role that I had of a creative director of Vogue. I was the first black man to ever be named such. I owe that to Anna Wintour. I owe her much. And I think, in turn, I think she owes me. She owes me kindness and simple grace and being decent when things go south."

When The Chiffon Trenches was released in May a source close to Wintour told PEOPLE exclusively: "Anna considered André a friend for over 30 years and naturally was saddened by the way he chose to portray many aspects of their friendship, but he is of course entitled to tell it as he remembers it. She wishes him the best."